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Thread: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

  1. #36
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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Well, that's one way to look at it. Another way to look at is to recognize that everyone in the world can have a lavish standard of living even by Western civ standards - but only if we manage our fertility to the extent of not outstripping our resource base.

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Orca View Post
    So the "tragedy of the commons" does, in fact, occur.
    But not on the sort of historical commons Hadin described. A commons is property held in common by the community. The situation Hardin imagines seems to happen where no one holds the territory.

    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Orca View Post
    I've read Hardin, and I don't think that's entirely correct.
    I've read Hardin as well, and I quoted the part where he refers to enclosures. Please re-read my post.


    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Orca View Post
    I think it contributes, certainly.
    Empirically, this is not the case. Compare Germany with South Sudan.

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publicat...elds/2002.html

    Yes, there are plenty of other differences, so come up with your own examples. Where has a generous welfare state resulted in overpopulation?



    Unfortunately, it is not at all clear that sufficient resources exist, particularly in the long or sustainable term, to do that for all of the people in the world, and they are continuing to overproduce children.[/QUOTE]

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    But not on the sort of historical commons Hadin described. A commons is property held in common by the community. The situation Hardin imagines seems to happen where no one holds the territory.
    Which he uses as a central metaphor for unmanaged, shared resources "where no one holds the territory".

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    Where has a generous welfare state resulted in overpopulation?
    Dude, there are almost eight billion people living on a planet most ecologists agree can comfortably and sustainably support somewhere in the vicinity of a tenth to a quarter of that number. Where hasn't ​the global welfare state resulted in overpopulation?!

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Orca View Post
    Which he uses as a central metaphor for unmanaged, shared resources "where no one holds the territory".



    Dude, there are almost eight billion people living on a planet most ecologists agree can comfortably and sustainably support somewhere in the vicinity of a tenth to a quarter of that number. Where hasn't ​the global welfare state resulted in overpopulation?!
    Where it doesn't exist, which is most of the world, and all the parts where population is rising rapidly. It's like you haven't read a word I've written.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    Where it doesn't exist, which is most of the world, and all the parts where population is rising rapidly. It's like you haven't read a word I've written.


    Perhaps... and it's like you haven't understood a single thing I've written. Rapidly rising population isn't the problem; rising population is the problem, full stop. Regional variations don't particularly matter to the big picture; the global load on global resources does. And you and I probably have very different interpretations of the term "welfare state"; mine includes food aid, modern agriculture, refrigeration, cheap energy from petrochemicals, and all the other technological measures that have served to temporarily insulate people - including but not limited to those in regions experiencing rapid population growth - from the consequences of seriously overshooting the planet's comfortably sustainable population.

    Tell me, are there any nations you think are NOT overpopulated?


    (Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk, and it is a bletcherous piece of crap I will no longer be using.)
    Last edited by Flying Orca; 10-05-2017 at 08:35 PM.

    What are you doing about it?




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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Orca View Post
    Perhaps... and it’s like you haven’t understood a single thing I’ve written. Rapidly rising population isn’t the problem; rising population is the problem, full stop. Regional variations don’t particularly matter to the big picture; the global load on global resources does. And you and I probably have very different interpretations of the term “welfare state”; mine includes food aid, modern agriculture, refrigeration, cheap energy from petrochemicals, and all the other technological measures that have served to temporarily insulate people - including but not limited to those in regions experiencing rapid population growth - from the consequences of seriously overshooting the planet’s comfortably sustainable population.

    Tell me, are there any nations you think are NOT overpopulated?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I don't believe Canada is overpopulated. And you're right about something, at least, I don't agree with your definition of the welfare state. It is a social and political institution, not "technological measures." I suppose you can redefine the term in a way that justifies what you've said, but this sort of Humpty Dumpty approach to the meaning of words is not a good way to communicate what you think to other people.



    A more conventional approach to vocabulary might produce less misunderstanding.

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    If one wants an entertaining, and relatvely accurate, description if the English Commons and the problems with enclosure, just read "The Yellow Admiral"

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Yikes. Sorry for the eyebleed, new app and it sucks. Anyway...

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    I don't believe Canada is overpopulated.
    Hmmm, interesting. So you think Canada has a population that is sustainable indefinitely, after cheap energy is gone, and after our current agriculture and fishing practices destroy our ability to support our current numbers, and after our non-renewable extraction industries run their course and no longer provide a basis for trade? I wish I shared your optimism. I don't think we've left a lot of resilient ecosystems to cushion those impacts.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    I don't agree with your definition of the welfare state. It is a social and political institution, not "technological measures."
    Sorry, I was kind of using mental shorthand AND typing on my phone, never terribly reliable. I should have added a qualifier: that is how I broadly interpret the concept of welfare state in the context of population - the aspects of a civilization supporting the "general welfare" that enable relatively unchecked reproduction. Much broader than a civic social assistance program like food stamps, for example, but the principles are - I think - the same.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    A more conventional approach to vocabulary might produce less misunderstanding.
    Yeah, I realized I had expanded my thoughts to a global scale and figured I should clarify. "Welfare state" is the term that sparked my thoughts, but isn't exactly right anymore.

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Orca View Post
    Hmmm, interesting. So you think Canada has a population that is sustainable indefinitely, after cheap energy is gone, and after our current agriculture and fishing practices destroy our ability to support our current numbers, and after our non-renewable extraction industries run their course and no longer provide a basis for trade? I wish I shared your optimism. I don't think we've left a lot of resilient ecosystems to cushion those impacts.
    We have the technology to turn co2 into methane, and methane into protein, using solar power. At a rate that could feed multiples of the current global population. The only thing preventing it, is the political will to do so. No one really wants to live on protein paste and vitamin pills, so it's not really a high priority. The only argument right now is how close to that subsistence living we want to force on the general population. And we're deciding that by how we treat women and families. The worse we treat women, the worse it's going to get before the population levels out.

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Corvida View Post
    We have the technology to turn co2 into methane, and methane into protein, using solar power. At a rate that could feed multiples of the current global population.
    I'd like to see a reliable source for that claim; I don't believe it's well-founded.

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Orca View Post
    Yikes. Sorry for the eyebleed, new app and it sucks. Anyway...



    Hmmm, interesting. So you think Canada has a population that is sustainable indefinitely, after cheap energy is gone, and after our current agriculture and fishing practices destroy our ability to support our current numbers, and after our non-renewable extraction industries run their course and no longer provide a basis for trade? I wish I shared your optimism. I don't think we've left a lot of resilient ecosystems to cushion those impacts.



    Sorry, I was kind of using mental shorthand AND typing on my phone, never terribly reliable. I should have added a qualifier: that is how I broadly interpret the concept of welfare state in the context of population - the aspects of a civilization supporting the "general welfare" that enable relatively unchecked reproduction. Much broader than a civic social assistance program like food stamps, for example, but the principles are - I think - the same.



    Yeah, I realized I had expanded my thoughts to a global scale and figured I should clarify. "Welfare state" is the term that sparked my thoughts, but isn't exactly right anymore.
    The part of Hardin's argument addressed in the thread title is specific to the kind of welfare state I'm talking about. He might also agree with you about what happens when cheap energy is gone, but that's a separate argument.

    He clearly misunderstood the incentives of the conventionally defined welfare state.

    And I think the energy problem is solvable. Already, solar and wind are approaching the cost of fossil fuel energy, and the storage problem is solvable as well.

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    If one wants an entertaining, and relatvely accurate, description if the English Commons and the problems with enclosure, just read "The Yellow Admiral"

    Sent from my BLN-L24 using Tapatalk
    O'Brian was always great for social history.

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    I think the energy problem is solvable. Already, solar and wind are approaching the cost of fossil fuel energy, and the storage problem is solvable as well.
    Yes, I think those problems are largely solved, within limits. I'm not as convinced that we have, or have the technology to create, a storage medium of sufficient density to support the long-range transportation networks that enable the scale of urban and northern dwelling currently seen in Canada. Electric vehicles for in-city use are one thing; large-scale, long-distance transport of food and other goods is not an area that has seen any inroads (if you'll pardon the expression) from renewable energy sources.

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Orca View Post
    ...

    Originally Posted by peb
    Likewise, one has to challenge the entire concept that we have a population problem, when there is no evidence to that effect.
    Population is the underlying driver behind every resource degradation and depletion problem, up to and including climate change, in the world today.
    Word.

    Keep in mind, you are responding to not only a christian, but a catholic.. who believes his fantasy god told him to 'go forth and multiply' (ntm, told him the world was his to (mis)use as he sees fit).. and doesn't realize the (1st) statement is nothing more than a philosophical observation of a biological imperative.. the urge to procreate.

    That 'religious justification', is the "and other things" of the op. It must go.

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    large-scale, long-distance transport of food and other goods is not an area that has seen any inroads (if you'll pardon the expression) from renewable energy sources.
    Electric railways are an old and well-understood technology - not competitive with diesel over long distances at present, but give it time.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    Electric railways are an old and well-understood technology - not competitive with diesel over long distances at present, but give it time.
    Yes. Here in Canada, electrics are only found within cities; long-distance rail transport is accomplished with diesel (well, diesel-electric, typically, but diesel is the compact energy storage mechanism). I would love to see feasible long-distance electric rail, but I'm not aware of it ever being demonstrated. (I should add that this is way outside my area of expertise or anything resembling it, so I could well be wrong... and I'd be pleasantly surprised to find that I am.)

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  17. #52
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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Early in the 20th century there were a lot more electric railways, both freight and passenger. I think it could be done with 100-year-old technology, and considerably more efficiently now. The only reason they stopped was that diesel-electrics were cheaper to run. It's not my area of expertise, but I don't really see any particularly difficult technical problems
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    I was curious and had a quick look at the Wikipedia article; unfortunately, this statement was not footnoted:

    On the other hand, electrification may not be suitable for lines with low frequency of traffic, because lower running cost of trains may be outweighed by the high cost of the electrification infrastructure. Therefore, most long-distance lines in developing or sparsely populated countries are not electrified due to relatively low frequency of trains.
    But as I say, I'd LOVE to see it happen.

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    I think the only reason it isn't done is economic. There's no technical reason we couldn't use solar or wind-generated electricity to power electric locomotives transporting Kansas wheat to New York. Except for startup costs, it might be economical even now.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    Where fish stocks are not managed as a commons, this is the case. Hardin claimed that the solution to the tragedy of the commons was enclosures, but as Peb points out, they were not a solution to any problem with the way commons were managed.
    Do you call what Hardin advocates "enclosures"?

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post

    Do you agree with Hardin that the welfare state causes overpopulation?.
    Of course it does. It enables it to exist, while it can.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    The essay claims that we must end freedom to breed because the welfare state will cause overbreeding yet empirically, the opposite is true. Give people the resources to make sure their kids grow up, and they won't overproduce children.
    Over-breeding within the jurisdiction of a particular welfare state isn't the only thing that adds population. There's also immigration. Other countries are F ed up and export people by the millions. Who will take them? The welfare state, which also guarantees them a living standard.

    In any case, it isn't the rates that are important, either of population growth or environmental impacts. It's the total environmental impact that destroys the ecology.

    You seem to think the definition of over-population is strictly socio-economic. Biologically, it means too many for the habitat to support. There is a horizontal line which represents carrying capacity in equilibrium. Where there is a "commons" i.e. where other restraints on population are removed, the population reaches a certain point where its growth curve is a vertical line, for a time; then back down. After that, the new equilibrium is lower than the old, i.e. the habitat has been damaged. When the fuel runs out, down she comes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    I don't believe Canada is overpopulated.
    Then why do they need this?

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Biologically, it means too many for the habitat to support. There is a horizontal line which represents carrying capacity in equilibrium.
    Nah; nothing like a horizontal line. Carrying capacity depends directly on the level of technology, i.e. how much we know and what we can do. Were we to live by hunting and gathering, the capacity would be very low. Early agriculture, somewhat higher; modern agriculture, still higher. Now, capacity is never infinite obviously, the planet's finite, and there's no guarantee we'll be even halfway smart about it. We can certainly exceed carrying capacity at any level of technology, but the more we know the more efficiently we can use the resources we have. The idea that it's a 'horizontal line' is nonsense.

    I find the idea that we should try deliberately to make people's lives more miserable to prevent them from breeding utterly loathsome and morally repugnant. It is also contradicted by all the evidence about how people actually behave.

    Next step, a bloody war, or perhaps a bioengineered plague to cut the human population by about 80%? This is the very definition of misanthropy, the idea that we are all just vermin that need to be wiped out. You first.
    Last edited by Keith Wilson; 10-06-2017 at 03:38 PM.
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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    I find the idea that we should try deliberately to make people's lives more miserable to prevent them from breeding utterly loathsome and morally repugnant. It is also contradicted by all the evidence about how people actually behave.

    Next step, a bloody war, or perhaps a bioengineered plague to cut the human population by about 80%? This is the very definition of misanthropy, the idea that we are all just vermin that need to be wiped out. You first.
    Agreed on both counts. This is why we urgently need to learn to control our fertility.

    What are you doing about it?




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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    In even moderately developed countries, we're already doing pretty well. Some data: Not much a positive correlation between either welfare or a 'welfare state' and fertility, is there? Precisely the opposite, in fact. Look at the high-fertility countries: in the western hemisphere, Bolivia, Honduras, Panama maybe, and to a lesser extent Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Then there's most of sub-saharan Africa, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Laos, Yemen . . . Not a one of them with either much welfare or a welfare state. And the lowest fertility is mostly in the places that take better care of their citizens. China's a special case. There's actually a pretty good negative correlation between the extent of the welfare state and fertility.

    Last edited by Keith Wilson; 10-06-2017 at 04:14 PM.
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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Oh, don't be silly. God knows we've done way, way too many stupid and destructive things. I'm arguing against the the premise of the thread, and the particularly the more vehement version of it that Mr. Russell favors - that we have to 'kill the welfare state', deliberately condemn people to more miserable lives, even kill them off, in order to reduce the population. As I said, you first.

    All the data shows precisely the opposite: that people voluntarily reduce their fertility when they have comfortable and secure lives, and have more children when life is poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
    Last edited by Keith Wilson; 10-06-2017 at 04:31 PM.
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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Osborne Russell View Post
    Do you call what Hardin advocates "enclosures"?



    Of course it does. It enables it to exist, while it can.



    Over-breeding within the jurisdiction of a particular welfare state isn't the only thing that adds population. There's also immigration. Other countries are F ed up and export people by the millions. Who will take them? The welfare state, which also guarantees them a living standard.

    In any case, it isn't the rates that are important, either of population growth or environmental impacts. It's the total environmental impact that destroys the ecology.

    You seem to think the definition of over-population is strictly socio-economic. Biologically, it means too many for the habitat to support. There is a horizontal line which represents carrying capacity in equilibrium. Where there is a "commons" i.e. where other restraints on population are removed, the population reaches a certain point where its growth curve is a vertical line, for a time; then back down. After that, the new equilibrium is lower than the old, i.e. the habitat has been damaged. When the fuel runs out, down she comes.
    Hardin refers to his solution as "enclosures." I've already quoted the text on this thread.

    You seem to be immune to empirical evidence. Countries with robust welfare states have low birth rates, countries without them, for the most part, have much higher population growth. I've linked the information, but you choose to believe the opposite of what the evidence shows.

    Population equilibrium doesn't just change in one direction. The equilibrium population for hunter-gatherers was much lower than that for agricultural societies. When Fritz Haber developed artificial fertilizer, the carrying capacity of the earth was estimated at 1.5 billion people. Between his work and other developments, we can probably support 10 billion people, unless climate change derails that (and I believe it will.) We can solve technical problems, it's what we're good at.

    As to why they need ugly industrial sites, I don't see what that has to do with overpopulation. It's a decision they've made about making money.
    Last edited by johnw; 10-06-2017 at 04:34 PM.

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    When Fritz Haber developed artificial fertilizer . .
    And totally destroyed the Chilean nitrate-mining industry.
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    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    And totally destroyed the Chilean nitrate-mining industry.
    And after they went to the trouble of fighting a war over batsh... guano.

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Indeed. But the nitrates were mostly salitre, naturally occurring minerals in the far north where it almost never rains. It rained, it would dissolve and wash away. Mining salitre was probably the second-worst job on earth, the worst being mining the guano on the Chinchas.
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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    The problem is Earth supports a fixed number of life forms. As life forms die off, they are reincarnated as the lowest form of the next level up. Worked fine when everything was in balance. However, in the last hundred years or so, humans have killed off large numbers of animal life. Many of those souls have come back at the lowest level of human life, but they haven't shed enough of their 'animal' makeup. So, they breed like, well, rabbits.
    This is why Earth is currently overrun by lower level humans. Save animal lives now, and save humanity!

    Can't remember where I heard that theory.
    Remember, this fix is only temporary... unless it works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    Nah; nothing like a horizontal line. Carrying capacity depends directly on the level of technology . . .
    Temporary carrying capacity for humans, regardless of the effect on the ecosystem . . . is not what ecology studies. The line is as horizontal as a laser tangent to the earth, by definition. In reality there is a margin of error, true. Couple per cent. The longer period over which you draw the line, the flatter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    I find the idea that we should try deliberately to make people's lives more miserable to prevent them from breeding utterly loathsome and morally repugnant.
    OK to F up the world for the children, though?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    Next step, a bloody war, or perhaps a bioengineered plague to cut the human population by about 80%?
    False dichotomy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    This is the very definition of misanthropy, the idea that we are all just vermin that need to be wiped out. You first.
    Vermin do not practice cruelty under a blanket of self-delusion.
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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Z View Post
    The problem is Earth supports a fixed number of life forms. As life forms die off, they are reincarnated as the lowest form of the next level up. Worked fine when everything was in balance. However, in the last hundred years or so, humans have killed off large numbers of animal life. Many of those souls have come back at the lowest level of human life, but they haven't shed enough of their 'animal' makeup. So, they breed like, well, rabbits.
    This is why Earth is currently overrun by lower level humans. Save animal lives now, and save humanity!

    Can't remember where I heard that theory.
    Probably the bilge.

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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Vermin do not practice cruelty under a blanket of self-delusion.
    True, they don't have enough brains to manage the self-delusion. Cruelty, sure, in spades.

    You are about as wrong about carrying capacity as it's possible to be. There's no doubt an upper limit, but below that, it depends entirely on how we make our livings, which depends on what we know and can do.

    And you are resolutely ignoring the evidence that human beings reproduce faster when their lives are miserable and dangerous, and control their fertility when their lives are safe and comfortable. (Some very good data here.) The only way to reduce population by making people poorer and more desperate is to make things so bad they die - or more likely that child mortality climbs to pre-industrial levels, and most of their children don't live to grow up. Are you really proposing that? Your family first, then.

    Last edited by Keith Wilson; 10-07-2017 at 08:13 AM.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

  34. #69
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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    In even moderately developed countries, we're already doing pretty well. Some data: Not much a positive correlation between either welfare or a 'welfare state' and fertility, is there? Precisely the opposite, in fact. Look at the high-fertility countries: in the western hemisphere, Bolivia, Honduras, Panama maybe, and to a lesser extent Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Then there's most of sub-saharan Africa, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Laos, Yemen . . . Not a one of them with either much welfare or a welfare state. And the lowest fertility is mostly in the places that take better care of their citizens. China's a special case. There's actually a pretty good negative correlation between the extent of the welfare state and fertility.
    You country map hides a lot of the details.

    At least in the US, rich people tend to have fewer kids than poor people. Similarly for educated and uneducated groups. One could argue that educated or rich people believe there is a different carrying capacity than uneducated or poor people.
    Life is complex.

  35. #70
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    St. Paul, MN, USA
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    Default Re: why we must kill the welfare state and other things

    Man, you're getting ornery. Look, we disagree less than you might think. I don't want a planet 100% devoted to feeding humans either, and I think it's much better to have whales and elephants and intact wild ecosystems.

    AFAIK, there are only three proven ways that you can get humans not to reproduce to excess:

    1. Totalitarian state power; China's one-child policy or something similar.
    2. High death rates - starvation, war, and disease. This is what kept populations low for most of our history, and appears to be what you are advocating by calling for eliminating the 'welfare state.' This is what I am objecting to.
    3. Prosperity, education, and readily-available birth control and abortion. When people have relatively safe and comfortable lives, they have fewer children voluntarily.

    I don't know of any other way to do it. Do you? I prefer #3.

    This is also an excellent argument for egalitarian social polices; if wealth is concentrated, more people will have little enough that they breed faster. Concentration of wealth plus restrictions on birth control - NOT a good idea.
    Last edited by Keith Wilson; 10-08-2017 at 10:33 AM.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

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